Exam revision takes toll on sleep


Research by the The Sleep Council has found that pupils are being deprived of vital sleep as they cram in up to 14-plus hours of exam revision each week.

In the month of exams, the number of teenagers who have just five to six hours sleep a night doubles from 10% to 20%.

Some 83% of teenagers admit their sleep is affected by worry and stress over exams with 18% saying they struggle to fall asleep, 28% waking up more frequently, 28% waking earlier and 10% affected by all three symptoms.

More than a third (34%) say they revise for 8 -10 hours a week while more than one in 10 (11%) spend in excess of 14 hours a week doing so.

Said Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council: “The next few weeks will see teenagers across Britain studying for school exams and while we are aware that the exam period itself has a major impact on sleeping habits, we wanted to take a closer look at the effect the revision run-up period has on sleep.

“Our research shows that a worryingly high number of teenagers are not getting as much sleep as they need to function and perform at their best in the build up to exams. They are sacrificing sleep to study when in fact they might be more mentally alert cramming in extra sleep rather than more revision.

“There’s a growing body of evidence that demonstrates how much the sleep we get impacts on how we perform.  A good night’s sleep triggers changes in the brain that helps to improve memory, meaning you’ll be much better able to remember what you learnt the day before.”

The study of over a thousand 13 – 18-year-olds found that more than half (56%) admitted to regularly cramming all their revision for an exam into one night.

While they may not be sleeping in their beds as much as they should when in the throes of exam studies, more than four out of five (82%) teenagers said it was their preferred location for doing revision work. More than a third (35%) said they do so because it’s a great place to spread out their papers and books.

Said Lisa: “A good night’s sleep is one of the most important tools for doing well in your studies. Lack of sleep can end up clouding judgement or increasing the number of mistakes made. Students need to get at least six to eight hours of sleep a night, particularly on the night before an exam.”

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